New Webinar on Using PBVs

On April 21st, from 2 pm to 3 pm ET, HUD will host a webinar on how PHAs can expand their project-based voucher (PBV) portfolio. According to HUD, “[t]his webinar will review the PBV program requirement, highlight PBV resources, and provide case studies for how PHAs have used PBVs to improve HCV program utilization.”

Registration for the webinar can be found here.

HUD Extends Streamlined Waiver Requests for Certain HCV Waivers

On April 11th, HUD published a notice extending the time in which certain Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) waivers could be applied for in an expedited manner. The notice is titled “Streamlined Regulatory Waivers for the Housing Choice Voucher (including Mainstream and Mod Rehab) Program” (PIH 2022-09).

The notice extends the deadline–until September 30, 2022–to apply for three specific waivers that apply to the Housing Choice Voucher program. These waivers were previously available through prior notices, but the deadline to apply through the expedited process had ended.

The three waivers that are still available for the HCV program are the following:

  • Increase in Payment Standard During HAP Contract Term – this waiver would allow the PHA to increase the payment standard for a family at any time after the effective date of the increase, rather than waiting for the next regular reexamination.
  • Term of Voucher: Extensions of Term – this waiver would allow PHAs to grant extensions of the initial voucher term, irrespective of what is written in the PHA’s administrative plan.
  • Voucher Tenancy: New Payment Standard Amount – this waiver would allow PHAs to establish payment standards from 111 to 120 percent of the Fair Market Rent (FMR).

In requesting a waiver, the PHA must articulate a good cause justification. The good cause justification must include three elements: 1) why the PHA needs the waiver; 2) the impact on PHA operations or applicants if the waiver is not provided; and 3) the proposed waiver duration. The waiver may not extend past Dec. 31, 2022. The notice provides examples of good cause.

To request a waiver, PHAs should email PIH_Expedited_Waivers@hud.gov. The notice provides instructions on the information required and the proper formatting of the email request.

The full notice can be found here.

New HUD Notice Provides Opportunity for Additional Mainstream Vouchers and Additional Administrative Fees

In April, HUD released a notice providing an opportunity for PHAs to access additional Mainstream vouchers. The notice is titled “Mainstream Vouchers – Non-Competitive Opportunity for Additional Vouchers Authorized by the CARES Act and Extraordinary Administrative Funding” (Notice PIH 2022-07). The notice provides an opportunity for PHAs to receive new Mainstream vouchers and extraordinary administrative fees. The Department will make up to $35 million available for these vouchers. The deadline to apply for these vouchers and additional administrative fees is no later than May 6, 2022 at 11:59 pm ET.

Housing agencies that are eligible for these vouchers must meet certain requirements. Those PHAs that have previously received Mainstream vouchers from certain notices and that have a Mainstream voucher utilization rate of 80% or higher as of Nov. 2021 are eligible.

To receive an allocation of new Mainstream vouchers, a PHA, through its Executive Director (or equivalent position), must submit a form HUD-52515, according to instructions in the notice, via email to MainstreamFunding@hud.gov. The subject line of the email must include the PHA’s unique identifying number and the words “Request for Mainstream Award for COVID-19 Response.” Outstanding civil rights matters must be resolved before the Department will award additional Mainstream vouchers under this notice.

The Department will award vouchers by granting either the number of vouchers the PHA requests or number of vouchers determined by the PHA’s size, if the number the PHA requests is larger than the number allocated by size. HUD may, at its discretion, grant fewer vouchers. The maximum number of vouchers HUD will grant according to PHA size is detailed below:

  • PHAs with more than 5,000 vouchers – Up to 50 Mainstream vouchers under this notice;
  • PHAs with more than 1,000 vouchers, but fewer than 5,000 vouchers – Up to 30 Mainstream vouchers under this notice; and
  • PHAs with fewer than 1,000 vouchers – Up to 10 Mainstream vouchers.

The deadline for to apply for these vouchers is no later than May 6, 2022 at 11:59 pm ET.

Additionally, extraordinary administrative fees will also be made available. The Department will make available $500 dollars per voucher awarded in certain prior Mainstream voucher notices and this notice. Applications for these administrative fees must be received no later than May 6, 2022 at 11:59 pm ET. To apply for the funds a PHA’s Executive Director, or equivalent position, must send an email to MainstreamFunding@hud.gov, with a subject line that includes the PHA’s unique identifying code and the words “EAF Mainstream Application” and includes a statement printed in the notice. The notice also contains certain other details about what should be included in the application email.

The full notice can be found here.

HUD Issues Notice on Submitting Consolidated and Annual Action Plans for FY 2022

In March, HUD submitted a notice to instruct all grantees of programs under the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) on the timing of their plan submissions. Programs within this notice include: the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Housing Trust Fund (HTF), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA).

The notice provides the following information:

  • Grantees and HOME participating jurisdictions (PJs) should not submit their Plans until the actual grant amounts have been determined and announced by HUD.
  • Instructions to grantees/PJs on waiver applications and CPD’s flexibility pertaining to consolidated planning citizen participation requirements for submissions.
  • Instructions to grantees/PJs regarding costs incurred prior to the execution of a grant agreement.
  • Waiver information for Entitlement CDBG grantees and HOME PJs that are meant to assist in the implementation of pre-award costs instructions.

HUD notes that the provisions within the notice apply equally to grantees’ 3-to 5-year Consolidated Plans as well as to annual Action Plans. This can apply as a stand-alone document or part of the overall Plan submission.

For questions concerning this notice, individuals should contact their local HUD Field Office Community Planning and Development Division.

Afghan Arrivals and USCIS SAVE Program Training

A recent email from HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing states that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and HUD will be holding training sessions for HUD staff and HUD-funded housing providers–including PHAs. The trainings will provide information and resources regarding Afghan arrivals, including federal benefits for which they may be eligible, documentation they may present to apply for benefits, and information on how to verify their immigration status using the SAVE program. These Afghan arrivals are people who entered the country through Operation Allies Welcome.

While USCIS and HUD will not record the training or distribute a copy of the presentation, much of the content can be found here.

Links to register for both training sessions may be found below. (Please note: although the registration links appear to sign the person registering for the webinar for an email newsletter, the links will actually register an individual for the webinar.)

  • Session 1: Thursday, April 7, 2022, 1:00 – 2:00 PM EDT 
  • Session 2: Thursday, April 14, 2022, 2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT

Dept. of Justice Issues Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA

The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has just recently issued guidance describing how state, local governments and businesses can better make sure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The guidance provides reasons why website accessibility matters; examples of website accessibility; ADA requirements; how to implement accessible web content; and resources that provide links to guides and tools for implementation.

Importance of Website of Accessibility

Designing websites that are accessible allow equal access to information. People with disabilities navigate the web in many different ways (screen readers; voice recognition software; the use of closed captioning), which require organizations to account for each type of need depending on the type of disability. Websites that are inaccessible can exclude individuals just as much as steps at an entrance to a store or building for individuals with physical disabilities.

Barriers to Website Accessibility

The department notes various obstacles that can hinder an individuals’ ability to access web content, which include:

  • Poor color contrast
  • Use of color alone to give information
  • Lack of text alternatives (“alt text”) on images
  • No captions on videos
  • Inaccessible online forms
  • Mouse-only navigation (lack of keyboard navigation)

ADA Requirements

Under Title II (refers to state and local governments) and Title III (refers to businesses open to the public) of the ADA, organizations are prohibited from discrimination against people with disabilities. Various governments and businesses open to the public must take steps to ensure that their communications are just as effective with people with disabilities as they are with individuals without disabilities Also, that goods, services, facilities, privileges, and advantages are offered equally.

How to Make Web Content Accessible

The department allows organizations flexibility in how they ensure that the programs, services, and goods they provide online are accessible to people with disabilities. They include various links that help guide organizations in implementing web accessibility. Please see the links below that they provide:

HCV Mobility Demonstration Supplementary Notice Published

A pre-publication copy of a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Mobility Demonstration Supplementary Notice has been posted to the Federal Register’s public inspection desk. This notice expands on the original implementation notice to describe additional policies and flexibilities for PHAs that are participating in the HCV mobility demonstration (now called the “Community Choice Demonstration“). The notice touches on topics such as the pilot length; enrollment of existing voucher holders and new admissions; flexibility between the treatment groups and the control group; the memorandum of understanding and the performance standards requirements; and the eligible uses of funds.

Continue reading

2022 Administrative Fee Rates Posted

On March 30, HUD sent an email to Executive Directors of PHAs noting that calendar year (CY) 2022 administrative fee rates have been posted to HUD’s website. Administrative fees are used by agencies to cover the costs of operating the Housing Choice Voucher program. Advanced administrative fee prorations for the months of April through May 2022 were at 88% proration. Final national prorations will be provided via email.

The following files may be found on HUD’s website:

Dept. of Labor Issues Update to Davis-Bacon Act Labor Standards

The Department of Labor has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking updating the Davis-Bacon Act labor standards. This is the first update to the regulations in 40 years. The Department’s goal in making this update is to “reflect better the needs of workers in the construction industry and planned federal construction investments.” Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) requirements require the payment of locally prevailing wage rates of construction workers that are employed on federally funded or assisted construction projects.

According to the Department of Labor, proposed changes to the regulations include:

  • Creating several efficiencies in the prevailing wage update system and ensuring prevailing wage rates keep up with actual wages, which over time would mean higher wages for workers.
  • Returning to the definition of “prevailing wage” used from 1935 to 1983 to ensure prevailing wages reflect actual wages paid to workers in the local community.
  • Periodically updating prevailing wage rates to address out-of-date wage determinations.
  • Providing broader authority to adopt state or local wage determinations when certain criteria is met.
  • Issuing supplemental rates for key job classifications when no survey data exists.
  • Updating the regulatory language to better reflect modern construction practices.
  • Strengthening worker protections and enforcement, including debarment and anti-retaliation.

Comments on the proposed rule are due May 17 to regulations.gov. NAHRO will post a more in-depth analysis of the proposed rule in the coming weeks.

When Does a PHA Not Receive a SEMAP Score? Find Out Here!

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted many PHAs’ voucher operations. In recognition of this, HUD has afforded PHAs that meet certain criteria the opportunity to waive their Section 8 Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) scores in recognition of the pandemic environment. There are also certain other instances when PHAs may not receive a SEMAP score. This blog post illustrates three instances where a PHA may not receive a SEMAP score.

Instances Where a Prior SEMAP Score Is Carried Forward

PHAs with a fiscal year end (FYE) on Dec. 31, 2021 will have their most recent SEMAP score on record carried forward. See pages 39 and 40 of Notice PIH 2021-14 (HA). (Note: For these PHAs, they will not qualify for the expedited waiver described below for their FYE on Dec. 31, 2022.)

PHAs that Receive an Expedited SEMAP Waiver

PHAs with a FYE of 3/31/22, 6/30/22 or 9/30/22 may request to waive the application of SEMAP in its entirety, but only if the PHA has SEMAP indicators that were–directly or indirectly–affected because of a disruption to PHA operations caused by the PHA’s adoption of CARES Act waivers. See page 4 of Notice PIH 2021-34. Additional information on applying for the SEMAP waiver or other expedited waivers can be found in Notice PIH 2021-34. The deadline to apply for expedited waivers has been extended to April 1, 2022. After April 1, PHAs may still apply for a regulatory waiver, but the expedited waiver process will no longer be available. See Notice PIH 2022-04.

Certain Small PHAs (Fewer than 250 Assisted Units)

HUD’s regulations state that HUD will assess and score SEMAP for PHAs with fewer than 250 assisted units every other PHA fiscal year unless the PHA elects to have itself scored annually or the PHA is troubled. 24 CFR 982.105(a)(2). Clarifying HUD guidance states that non-troubled PHAs with fewer than than 250 assisted units and FYEs of 3/31/2022 or 6/30/2022 do not have to have submit a SEMAP certification. See chart and accompanying text on page 3 of the IMS-PIC SEMAP Sub Module PHA Certification and PHA Appeal Submission Instructions, March 2019.

PHAs that fall into one of these categories may not receive an SEMAP score from HUD.